Mike Cameron’s defensive skills will be a nice change of pace for Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Brewers added another quality position player to their deep line-up with the signing of Mike Cameron to a one year deal with a team option for 2009. The contract calls for Cameron to receive $7 million in 2008, and either a $10 million salary or a $750,000 buy-out in 2009.
I really like this move for both parties: Cameron gets a nice chunk of change and a chance to show he’s worth a longer commitment if things go well (or at least another $10 million), while Milwaukee gets a strong defensive center fielder with some pop for relatively cheap. The short term nature of the contract helps mitigate the potential injury risk that comes along with Cameron, whose 2007 season ended with a bad break and who enters 2008 at 35-years-old.
Cameron’s biggest strength is his defense, the achilles heal of the Brewers last year. His arrival allows the team to shift incumbent CF Bill Hall back to the infield, where he will man the hot corner, and puts Ryan Braun in left, lessening the amount of damage he can do. Braun made an astounding 26 errors in only 112 games in 2007, posting an abysmal .895 fielding percentage. Hall, although not necessarily a Gold Glove candidate, played 127 games at shortstop in 2006, where he picked it at a .967 clip, so putting him in charge of Braun’s old stomping grounds should save the team several runs instantly.
The Brewers now feature a line-up that will include (in some order) Braun, Hill, Cameron, Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, and Rickie Weeks. Unfortunately the out-machine that has become Jason Kendall will begin the season as Milwaukee’s starting catcher, but we’ll see how long that lasts. Their line-up boasts depth, power, speed, and youth. They’ll be a lot of fun to watch.
On the other hand, Milwaukee’s pitching staff isn’t much to look at. However, Ben Sheets et al should suffice given the team might lead the NL in runs scored. The bullpen will be the key, considering the likelihood of a lot of high scoring affairs. Eric Gagne may prove to be a problem as closer, but if things work out the team should find itself in the thick of it come October. As of right now they must be considered co-favorites for the division with the Cubs once again, but look for someone to win a whopping 87 games or so this year, up from the 85 and 83 victories that won the division the previous two seasons.
Given that the Brewers have a legitimate American League line-up, they could find themselves lucky enough to be the next sacrificial lamb thrown to whichever wolf comes out of the AL in 2008.